• YEAR: Senior
  • MAJOR: Industrial Design
  • HOMETOWN: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kenneth Hsieh

Kenny Hsieh, future industrial designer, sits quietly in the Pao Hall design studio showing his portfolio. He'd prefer to let his sketches of cellphone cases, a remote excavator and cars do the talking, it seems. Then he comes to his senior project, a four-legged version of a tripod designed for use with still and video cameras.

Suddenly, he's all smiles, enthusiasm; his passion comes bubbling out as he moves left and right demonstrating his quadripod, panning the imaginary video camera strapped on top. That's today. As for the future? "I want to be on board with something big, the iconic design of a generation. Dream big."

Where it all began

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Michigan and Atlanta, with an interlude in Taiwan, this son of a Ford Motor Co. engineer spent his high school years in Shanghai. Most of his time there was spent playing rugby, drawing and exploring the city. He began sketching as a child, drawing cartoons with stick figures and machines. "I love it," he says of design. "There is so much freedom and creativity."

Dream big

Kenny's dream is nothing short of spectacular: Design something monumental, something iconic. Maybe in electronics, transportation, footwear design, he says. "These are far-out goals of course," he acknowledges.

Sample work

Kenny's school portfolio includes the quadripod, a sisal and steel cellphone case designed during the industrial design program's annual 48:2 competition (teams create 10 concepts and one prototype in 48 hours). The case would, hypothetically, be manufactured in Haiti and sold in the U.S. His work also includes a concept for a remote Caterpillar excavator to be used in the mining industry in 2030.

Sense of style

Kenny is a fan of minimalism, though not exclusively. "Style is something that is applied to a product to elicit emotion from the user," he says. "I'm not particularly set on one style. I try to express a range of them to present as options to the client. I reference current trends to find form, patterns and graphics and I apply them to my design."